John Schwenkler shares Michael Dummett’s conversion story (August 11, 2009)
Ralph McInerny about J-K Huysmans (author of À rebours)
excerpt from wikipedia
Archibald Joseph Cronin (19 July 1896 – 6 January 1981) was a Scottish novelist and physician 
In 1930, after being diagnosed with a chronic duodenal ulcer, Cronin was told he must take six months’ complete rest in the country on a milk diet. At Dalchenna Farm by Loch Fyne, he was finally able to indulge his lifelong desire to write a novel, having previously “written nothing but prescriptions and scientific papers”. From Dalchenna Farm he travelled to Dumbarton to research the background of the novel, using the files of Dumbarton Library, which still has the letter from Cronin requesting advice on this. He composed Hatter’s Castle in the span of three months, and the manuscript was quickly accepted by Gollancz, the only publishing house to which it had been submitted (apparently chosen when his wife randomly stuck a pin into a list of publishers). This novel, which was an immediate and sensational success, launched his career as a prolific author, and he never returned to practising medicine.
Some of Cronin’s novels also deal with religion, something he had grown away from during his medical training and career, and with which he reacquainted himself in the 1930s. At medical school, as he recounts in his autobiography, he had become an agnostic: “When I thought of God it was with a superior smile, indicative of biological scorn for such an outworn myth“. During his practice in Wales, however, the deep religious faith of the people he worked among made him start to wonder whether “the compass of existence held more than my text-books had revealed, more than I had ever dreamed of. In short I lost my superiority, and this, though I was not then aware of it, is the first step towards finding God.”
He also came to feel that “If we consider the physical universe,… we cannot escape the notion of a primary Creator…. Accept evolution with its fossils and elementary species, its scientific doctrine of natural causes. And still you are confronted with the same mystery, primary and profound. Ex nihilo nihil, as the Latin tag of our schooldays has it: nothing can come of nothing.” This was brought home to him in London, where in his spare time he had organized a working boys’ club. One day he invited a distinguished zoologist to deliver a lecture to the members. The speaker, adopting “a frankly atheistic approach,” described the sequence of events leading to the emergence, “though he did not say how,” of the first primitive life-form from lifeless matter. When he concluded, there was polite applause. Then, “a mild and very average youngster rose nervously to his feet” and with a slight stammer asked how there came to be anything in the first place. The naïve question took everyone by surprise. The lecturer “looked annoyed, hesitated, slowly turned red. Then, before he could answer, the whole club burst into a howl of laughter. The elaborate structure of logic offered by the test-tube realist had been crumpled by one word of challenge from a simple-minded boy.”